Update on COVID-19 and marking the first National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters
Hello, everyone. Happy Friday, everyone.
I’d like to begin by addressing what unfolded in Washington, D.C., this week.
What we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters, incited by the current president and other politicians.
As shocking, deeply disturbing, and frankly saddening as that event remains—we’ve also seen this week that democracy is resilient in America, our closest ally and neighbour.
Violence has no place in our societies, and extremists will not succeed in overruling the will of the people.
As Canadians, I think we’ve been all reflecting on our own country, something I spoke with the premiers about last night—about the fact that democracy is not automatic—it takes work every day.
About what a real accomplishment it is to maintain a political system in which the losing side gracefully concedes, and in which rival political parties, between elections, work together for the common good.
We have this in Canada because Canadians make it possible.
Canadians expect their political leaders to protect our precious democracy by how we conduct ourselves.
We’ve seen this manifest in unanimous consent in our Parliament for our main COVID-fighting measures, at a time when the government holds a minority of seats.
We see it in the cooperation between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments—regardless of political stripe.
Canadians expect debate.
Debate in service of all Canadians.
Debate that is grounded in a shared acceptance of the facts.
In a diverse country, there will always be diverse perspectives, and it is through respect for those differences that we create a stronger Canada.
Canadian democracy didn’t happen by accident and won’t continue without work.
We must always work to secure our democracy, and not give comfort to those who promote things that are not true or give space for hatred or extremism.
Yesterday, we began our 24th First Minister’s Meeting by talking about what happened in the United States this week.
We were all shocked to see extremists encouraged by the President act so violently to ransack the Capitol in Washington.
It reminds us that we cannot take our democracy for granted.
Democracy in Canada is not an accident and it will not continue without some effort.
Canadians expect honest debates that serve their interests.
Debates that share the same set of facts.
We all need to work together to protect democracy against those who promote lies and create space for hatred and extremism.
The premiers and I also discussed long-term care facilities, measures for travellers, testing, and vaccines.
Our government has been working tirelessly on vaccines for months.
The distribution process is going well.
There are complex challenges to distributing the doses, especially the Pfizer doses.
But thanks to everyone’s efforts, we were able to start distributing the doses sooner than expected, starting December 21.
We are doing everything we can to get as many vaccines as possible, as quickly as possible.
Major-General Fortin will provide detailed figures today.
In December, we distributed nearly half a million doses across the country, including a little over 88,000 doses in Quebec.
By the end of January, approximately 1.3 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will have been delivered to the provinces and territories.
We all want the pandemic to end as quickly as possible.
People are dying, hospitals are overwhelmed, jobs are being threatened: no one wants to see this.
This is a time of crisis and Canadians want results.
I understand and I promise that we are working tirelessly.
We are still working together—all levels of government—as one large team.
More than ever, now is the time to join forces to defeat COVID-19 once and for all.
Yesterday at our 24th First Minister’s Meeting, the premiers and I discussed the vaccine rollout across the country.
We agreed that it is vital that we work together as Team Canada to get vaccines delivered, distributed, and administered as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The premiers and I also discussed ways to combat misinformation.
Vaccines are safe and effective, and everyone should be doing their part by getting vaccinated once it’s their turn.
This week, over 124,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were delivered to 68 sites across the country.
Over 208,000 Pfizer doses will be delivered weekly for the rest of January.
On Moderna, by the end of next week, over 171,000 doses will be delivered to the provinces and territories.
We are on track to deliver approximately 1.3 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of January.
Quantities of both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine will scale up in February.
Remember that Canada has the most vaccines secured per capita in the world.
Which means that by September, we will have enough vaccines for every Canadian who wants one.
Our top priority remains keeping you and your family safe.
I know things are tough right now.
Frankly, it’s frightening to see cases rise at home and around the world, day after day.
But you’re not in this alone. We continue to be there for you.
We’re continuing to send millions of pieces of PPE to protect healthcare workers and communities.
We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.
For you, for your family, and for your communities, we will have your backs.
On that note, I can also confirm that yesterday, the Canadian Armed Forces approved a request for support to the Fort Albany First Nation in Ontario as they deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Canadian Rangers will be activated on the ground until at least January 11.
By working together, we will get through this.
As a number of provinces announce stricter measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, many people are worried about what this means for their jobs and for their families.
Our government will continue to be here for you.
This morning, we learned that the Canadian economy lost 63,000 jobs in December, mostly in the service industry.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has acted quickly to support our economy, and to support Canadians directly.
You can be sure that we are doing all we can to help you get through these difficult times.
Measures like the wage subsidy are making a real difference for workers and businesses who need it.
For a promising new company like Strongpoint in Toronto, the wage subsidy helped keep employees on the payroll when things got tough in the spring.
It was a lifeline for them.
The same goes for staff at the communication firm The Humphrey Group.
The wage subsidy helped them retain their hardworking employees, and get ready for recovery.
It’s not good news for anyone if local businesses have to close shop for good because of this global crisis.
In the second wave, this is not the time to take the foot off the gas.
It’s the time to keep doing everything we need to ensure that our economy stays resilient and that workers and families can weather this storm.
On Wednesday, Quebec announced stricter and extended lockdown measures.
It’s important for you to know that the federal government is here to support the provinces as they make difficult decisions.
To Quebecers and all Canadians: measures are in place to help you.
The wage subsidy is there for workers and small businesses.
For those who need it, we have modified employment insurance to support more people.
We won’t let you down.
As I said earlier, the vaccines are being delivered and we have reason to be optimistic.
But for now, we must follow public health guidelines.
Stay home, avoid gatherings, and use the free COVID Alert app.
Those who decide to travel, against public health advice, must undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine period when they return to Canada.
If this quarantine period is not respected, there will be serious legal consequences.
As of yesterday, it is also mandatory for travellers to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flights to come home.
Compared with other countries, our border measures are among the strictest in the world.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial that you keep doing your part to protect yourself, to help our healthcare workers, and to save lives.
Wear your mask, avoid gatherings, and use the COVID Alert app.
The app has now been updated to work on older models of iPhones—such as the iPhone 5s, 6, and 6 Plus.
Almost 6 million people have downloaded the app.
And of course, the more Canadians use it, the more powerful this tool becomes.
So keep it up, and remember—we’re all in this together.
This morning, I would like to take a moment to recognize that today marks the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 tragedy.
As a country, we remember all those we lost and we mourn with their families and friends.
Of the victims aboard that flight, 138 of them were on their way to Canada.
To the family members and friends who had planned to pick their loved ones up at the airport, to everyone who was looking forward to seeing your beloved partner, child, or parent—I cannot imagine your pain.
Know that you are in our thoughts today.
This kind of unthinkable tragedy must never happen again.
That’s why, over the past year, our government developed the Safer Skies Initiative and worked with partners around the world to help keep civilian aircraft away from dangerous conflict zones.
Today, on the first National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Air Disasters, we remember and honour all those we lost.
The victims of PS752—just like the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, Air India Flight 182, and other air disasters—will never be forgotten.
We will be there for each other through tough times—it’s what Canadians do.
Whether it’s grieving for elders we lost in long-term care homes.
Whether it’s mourning victims of international tragedies.
Or whether it’s standing with courageous young people like Isabella Kulak—a member of Cote First Nation, Saskatchewan—who wore her ribbon skirt to school to celebrate her culture last month.
Let’s remember who we are—people who are there for each other.
In tough times, we pull together. We look out for each other. We support each other. It’s what Canadians have learned to do throughout generations of dealing with winter, dealing with vast spaces, being there for each other, and being there for our neighbours.
We need to make it through this winter now. We need to pull together, while staying apart, and we need to hang in there.
Spring is coming. Summer is coming, it always does, and this one will be better if we can pull together right.
Stay safe everyone, we’ll talk to you again soon.